Hugh Hewitt on the Married Jesus

The lates essay at The Da Vinci Dialogue is titled, "Talking in Code—How to Prepare for Da Vinci Discussions." The author is Hugh Hewitt, a professor at Chapman University Law School in Anaheim and host of a nationally syndicated radio show. His essay primarily addresses the central premise of The Da Vinci Code: that Jesus might actually have been married. Here's a snippet:
I don't often hear persuasive argument, but no matter the subject, and no matter how high or low the passions involved, such conversation depends on three things:
First, that you actually have heard what the opposite side has said or is saying.

Second, that your address their specific claims calmly, thoroughly and preferably with some sympathy for the almost universal desire not to be embarrassed. If you want to persuade, you will have to be very careful not injure the pride of the opposite party.

Third, you need some undisputable facts backed up by some easily accessed sources so that your debate partners won't have to take your word for it.
Da Vinci Dialogue, 27.02.06


Brown Makes First Court Appearance

Dan Brown made his first appearance today in a London court which will hear a copyright infringment case. The defendant is the publisher of The Da Vinci Code, and the complaintants are Leigh and Baigent, two of the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail. See our original post on this story.

The Washington Post was johnny-on-the-spot covering the story, even getting a picture of Brown as he entered the courthouse.

Update: Forbes has some great quotes from the opening-day proceedings, including some statements from Brown about his faith which were made on the courthouse steps.

WashingtonPost.com, 27.02.06 and Forbes.com, 27.02.06


Book Review at Hollywood Jesus

Elisabeth Leitch offers her book-store perspective on Dan Brown's novel. A snippet:
As a novel, “The Da Vinci Code” is far from a literary masterpiece. Brown’s writing is “popular” writing, blow-by-blow, action-packed, ready to be pasted directly onto the big screen, and easily reproduced at the rate of one to two books a year. The story isn’t that complex. And his characters never become much more than skin deep personas. But even so, “The Da Vinci Code” has garnered more attention, more praise, and more condemnation than any of Clancy’s, Cussler’s, or Grisham’s similarly adventurous intrigues.
Hollywood Jesus, 25.02.06


Enough Offense for Every Christian

The latest article at the Da Vinci Dialogue, written by Thomas P. Rausch (Professor of Catholic Theology at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles), really comes to the defense of Roman Catholics. His basic tenet is, as I read it: "Hey, Dan Brown slimed us Protestants, too!" Very sympathetic. Here's a snip:
Dan Brown’s book The Da Vinci Code is clearly anti-Catholic. It portrays the Catholic Church as the enemy of truth, hijacking Jesus’ message, hiding evidence, engaging in a deliberate campaign of disinformation, and supporting Opus Dei as a sinister international Catholic organization not above using violence and assassination to accomplish its goals. All of which is clearly false. But Brown’s real target is the historic Christian faith which the Catholic Church formulated in its councils...
Da Vinci Dialogue, 24.02.06

Da Vinci Code at Premiere

The latest issue of Premiere magazine has a bit of a blurb on the upcoming movie. Surprise, surprise! Alas, however—the article itself has no surprises. Maybe they're encoded...

Premiere, 24.02.06

Leigh Teabing Sues Dan Brown

In the UK, two of the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail—Richard Leigh and Michael Baigent=Teabing—are suing Dan Brown for copyright infringement. The Scotsman is running an excellent summary of the history behind the book that inspired much of Robert Langdon's and Leigh Teabing's fictional and villainous conspiratorial ramblings, not to mention that lawsuit that will drag Dan Brown into British courts next week.


The Scotsman, 24.02.06


Catholic Outreach—to Whom?

A coalition of Catholic ministries has launched a website called the Da Vinci Outreach "to help readers and moviegoers navigate their way through the web of bogus history and outright lies conjured up by Dan Brown and brought to life by Imagine Entertainment and Sony Pictures." So says the press release.

The coalition includes Ascension Press, Catholic Exchange, and Catholic Outreach, some of the same folks that put together the Narnia Outreach website, which favored promotion of the Narnia movie.

This outreach, however, seems to include an up-raised palm, not an open hand.

The organization's press release says that "The outreach effort provides concerned individuals with the resources they need to seek the real truth and equip themselves for the inevitable watercooler conversations that will attack the principles of Christianity, the Catholic Church, and the Person of Jesus Christ."

It's an odd kind of "outreach" that starts the conversation by saying, as does spokesman Matthew Pinto, "The Da Vinci Code is a frontal assault on Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church," who adds that the website offers "the much-needed antidote to the spiritual and intellectual poison that permeates Dan Brown’s novel and that will undoubtedly be depicted in the forthcoming film."

"Welcome, and keep out," as Dan Brown says?

Update: Zenit, a Rome-based news agency, just published an interview with Mark Shea, one of the "Outreach" contributors, author of the upcoming Da Vinci Deception, published through Ascension.

Christian Newswire, 23.02.06 and Zenit, 23.02.06

Some Different Publicity Stills

MSN Movies has got a different, and more interesting, collection of promotional stills. This set gives us a better look at casting, and even story details.

MSN, 22.02.06

The Latest at The Da Vinci Dialogue

The latest essay is entitled, "Spiritual, But Not Religious: Who Are The Da Vinci Code’s Fans?" It's written by Douglas E. Cowan, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Social Development Studies at Renison College, University of Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada. Here's a snip:
More and more we hear the phrase, "I’m spiritual, but not religious," which is usually an attempt to distance oneself from the negative aspects of one institutional church or another. Indeed, we hear it so often these days that we are tempted to wonder if these people do not constitute something of a religious movement all their own. There are a few things that are important to bear in mind about this group, however, things that speak directly to the popularity of novels and films like The Da Vinci Code, and why Christians should not dismiss those who find their ideas appealing.
The Da Vinci Dialogue, 23.02.06


And Now For Something Really Irresponsible

WARNING: if you follow the link below, you are entering the realm of irresponsible Op-Ed sensationalist satire. I include the link here so that, when this nonsense begins to circulate around the web, you will know where this insane garbage originally came from. I guarantee, it WILL be repeated, and it will be repeated as FACT.

Sound familiar?

The inspiration for this tripe from the Times Online (UK) is the hightened sensitivity of the Muslim community due to those Danish political cartoons...

Times Online, 21.02.06

Dialogue? I Don't Think So!

Okay, so not everyone in Christendom is on board with having a civil dialogue about The Da Vinci Code. In the interest of balanced news reporting, here's a couple of sample snippets from hostile quarters (which Hollywood Jesus does not, for the record, endorse):
Mary Magdalene was one of the women who accompanied Jesus in His ministry. She was there at the base of the cross and witnessed Him laid in a borrowed tomb. She was honored to be the first seen by Jesus after His resurrection. And Jesus cast seven devils out of her. That’s it. What was the nature of the seven devils? We don’t know. What was Mary Magdalene’s previous history? We don’t know. Where did she come from? Magdala. What did she do in years after the resurrection? We don’t know. Did she wash Jesus’ feet with her tears? We are not told in the Bible that she washed Jesus’ feet. (J. Grant Swank, Jr.)

Christians being coaxed into writing anti-DVC pieces on a stupid web site (like, well, this one) are meekly accepting that they are being given "a seat at the table" in some grand cultural discussion. Duped! There is no seat folks. There is no discussion. What there is, is a few p.r. folks in Hollywood taking mondo big bucks from Sony Pictures, to deliver legions of well-meaning Christians into subsidizing a movie that makes their own Savior out to be a sham. The masses who will see this film will not be coming to the web site. They will go in to the theaters, eat handfuls of popcorn, and then come out marveling that millions of people for 2,000 years could have been so duped by a lie. They won't go to any web site. They won't be coming to any Christian forum. (Barbara Nicolosi)

Truth in Conviction, 18.02.06 and Church of the Masses, 19.02.06


New Article at the Da Vinci Dialogue

Check out the latest, an article titled "Hollywood Be Thy Name: The Uneasy History of Faith and Film," by Craig Detwiler, Associate Professor and Chair of Mass Communications at Biola University in La Mirada, CA. He is also a screenwriter and co-author of the book, A Matrix of Meanings: Finding God in Pop Culture. Here's the lead:
My classes begin with two words on the board, "church" and "Hollywood." Students associate the word "church" with judgment, hypocrisy and intolerance. "Hollywood" conjures up notions of greed, evil, and immorality—‘sin city.’ Such dichotomous labeling fuels both sides of the ongoing culture wars.
The Da Vinci Dialogue, 20.02.06

"Challenge" Morphs to "Dialogue"

For as yet unexplained reasons, the "Da Vinci Challenge" website, which was launched with some pretty significant hiccups on February 8, morphed into the "Da Vinci Dialogue" website last week— despite the fact that the website name remains unchanged.

Hmmm.... I wonder if there's some secret code at work here. Quick, somebody! Is "Dialogue" an anagram for "I go a duel"? Does this mean a battle over the site is being waged??!?!??!

At any rate, the site has issued its own press release about the "additional experts" it has added to its roster of supporters.

The Da Vinci Dialogue, 02.15.06

The Old Switcheroo

The Telegraph is running a pretty extensive article covering the squabble over the British religious edifices used to film The Da Vinci Code. At one extreme, Winchester Cathedral accepted payment of 20,000 British Pounds for use as a film location, while Westminster Abbey declined permission to film.

Just remember—when you see the movie, not everything you see is real! (Gasp!)

The Telegraph (UK), 20.02.06


The Inevitable Boycott

The conservative site Renew America is carrying a call from a Catholic priest to boycott The Da Vinci Code. Just to be clear, Hollywood Jesus does not endorse or support such boycotts; but we figure you ought to know what's out there.

Renew America, 16.02.06


Is Dan Brown an Idiot, or What?

The answer is, most likely, "What."

Over at The Globe and Mail, Simon Houpt has a pretty extensive article on "Hollywood's dependence on the stereotyped evil albino." Silas, the rather slow-witted dupe of a monk who is one of the principal villains in The Da Vinci Code, happens to be an albino. Naturally, Paul Bettany will also play the character as an albino in the upcoming movie.

The National Organization for Albinism and Hypopigmentation (NOAH)—and Houpt, apparently—choose to read this creative choice as a deliberate affront, just as Opus Dei naturally chooses to take offense to Dan Brown's portrayal of their organization.

But can it be any mere coincidence that, when we are first introduced to Silas, his mentor tells him "Noah was an albino, too"—and that the first result returned when googling +Noah +albino (as one might do when checking Dan Brown's facts) is the website for NOAH?

No, Dan Brown is no idiot. He's trying to expose all kinds of stereotypes and biases—it's just that he doesn't do it through his "surface meaning," which he pretty much tells you to ignore anyway. And he's pretty even-handed.

Globe and Mail, 15.02.06

New Studio Stills

Sony and Columbia Pictures have a released a small handful of new promotional stills from the upcoming movie. A sample is at right. They're hosted online at a variety of different sites. No great shakes—I'm sure they're not releasing their best stuff this early!—but enthusiasts should be intrigued. Sophie's hair doesn't look very "burgundy," though...

ComingSoon, 14.02.06


Mary Magdelene Documentary in Production

WorldScreen.com reports on a new documentary being produced about Mary Magdelene, based on the book Secrets of Mary Magdalene, scheduled for publication this fall.

World Screen, 10.02.06

History Channel Program on DVD

Troy Rogers at UnderGroundOnline has a very thorough review of The History Channel's program Da Vinci and the Code He Live By, which is now available on DVD.

UGO, 11.02.06

Da Vinci Challenge: "Crosses the Line"?

Mark Pinsky of the Orlando Sentinel does another nice job of analyzing Hollywood's trends of marketing films to Christian audiences. This time he takes on Sony and "The Da Vinci Challenge," and there seems to be more pushing back than there was over Narnia. Specifically, some Catholic organizations are not so keen about evangelicals using The Da Vinci Code as an outreach tool, given that the Vatican is one of the baddies in the book. Asks Catholic author Amy Welborn, "When do you cross the line from using it as a teachable moment to promoting the film?"

WashingtonPost.com, 11.02.06


Silas (Paul Bettany) Talks

MTV News managed to get Paul Bettany to talk about Ron Howard's take on The Da Vinci Code while he was out promoting Firewall, the film he's out promoting now. Bettany talks about working with Howard and the albino character Silas; and Jean Reno throws in a little about filming in the Louvre.

(DiamondBack Online also got a few comments about Da Vinci from Bettany.)

MTV News, 09.02.06 and DiamondBack Online, 09.02.06


More on Opus Dei

The Associated Press is carrying an excellent article on Opus Dei and its attempts to deal with the negative attention generated by The Da Vinci Code. Among the interesting tidbits reported by Rachel Zoll are:
  • Opus Dei has struck a deal with the same publishing house for the novel -- Doubleday -- to release The Way, a collection of spiritual thought by Opus Dei founder Josemaria Escriva, considered a key text for the group. Its publishing date is just 10 days before the movie opens.
  • Opus Dei will not call for a boycott of the Sony Pictures film.
  • Sony spokesman Jim Kennedy said the company views The Da Vinci Code as "fiction that is not meant to harm any organization."
The article includes links to Opus Dei's website and a Da Vinci Code blog run by an Opus Dei member in Rome.

Update: A Reuters story adds some details about Opus Dei's New York headquaters, plus details about its influence in the Catholic Church.

and HERE
Miami Herald, 08.02.06 and Reuters, 12.02.06

Great Publicity for Opus Dei, Too

Seems like everyone wins! The Da Vinci Code is so darn popular, and everyone in the book so equally painted in an unfavorable light, that we can all rejoice in what a wonderful opportunity the book is to learn the real truth behind the veil of words that Dan Brown presents.

Even the Rev. John Paul Wauck, a professor at Holy Cross, Opus Dei's pontifical college in Rome, told ABC news, "People are going to take the trouble to find out more about Opus Dei, and that's a good thing."

ABC News, 08.02.06

The Da Vinci Challenge

Sony Pictures today launched a website that The New York Times calls "a big bullhorn to the detractors of The Da Vinci Code." The site, called The Da Vinci Challenge, offers a boatload of resources related to Dan Brown's book, from a specifically Christian point of view. Hollywood Jesus happens to be a partner in the project, hosting online forums for discussion of the Challenge's various articles.

If you know Hollywood Jesus, though, you know that we're not just a mouthpiece (or bullhorn) for Christian detractors of pop culture. So I'm more inclined to think that Sony knows what they're doing and less skeptical than some of the talking heads that the Times consulted.

New York Times Online, 09.02.06


Going Live Today

Our coverage of The Da Vinci Code goes live later today. We'll be hosting this news blog as well as moderated discussions on our new forums. Make Hollywod Jesus your destination for all the Da Vinci Code buzz. It's Sony's destination, too, after all!

Hollywood Jesus, 08.02.06